Dave Sheble has never run the race he started.
He doesn't need to, to love what it means to his community.
Seven years ago Sheble and then-St. Charles neighbor Craig Bixler came up with an event born out of a rough Chicago Marathon run.
The Fox Valley Marathon, now in its eighth year, is expected to bring 3,300 runners to the area Sept. 17. The Fox Valley Trail course, which now includes a half-marathon and 20-mile run, runs from St. Charles almost to the casino in downtown Aurora and back.
Sheble can't wait to hear runners' reviews.
"Craig and I, we've never run our event. We have never seen what people see," Sheble said. "We live through their pictures and experiences."
The event has become one of the fall destinations for seasoned runners and newcomers alike. Sheble estimated that about 25 percent of the runners this year will be first-timers. It's hard to resist the shady, flat course that starts in St. Charles and weaves its way through downtown Geneva.
"Registration just keeps pouring in," Sheble said. "It's a great event for first-time runners to run along the river and in a beautiful environment."
It's similar to the marathon Sheble and Bixler ran in Grand Rapids, Mich., after their disastrous Chicago Marathon experience.
That Michigan run inspired them.
"We thought that it's a lot like the area we live in in the Fox Valley," Sheble said. "We had a great idea that there might be a need for it."
The Fox Valley Marathon has become a family-type event.
The benefit goes beyond race day, too. Over $100,000 has been raised some years for local charities.
"We are blessed to have the support of local businesses," Sheble said. "The businesses win; the communities win; and the charities win."
A new addition this year are personalized bibs.
"It's almost like a vanity plate," Sheble said. "It's neat to see what people dream up."
Some roads in St. Charles will be closed for the Fox Valley Marathon from 7 a.m. until approximately 2 p.m. Sept. 17. For details, go to www.stcharlesil.gov/news/top-stories.